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Unforgettable: The Songs We Keep on Replay

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The rapper Jay-Z says when you hear a great song, “you can think of where you were when you first heard it, the sounds, the smells. It takes the emotions of a moment and holds it for years to come. It transcends time.” What songs transcend time for you? What songs do you keep coming back to, over and over again, at different stages of your life? If you were in charge of someone’s music education, what songs would you insist on? Music critic Tom Moon guides us through some of the selections found in his book, “1,000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die: A Listener’s Life List.”

The Forum Team's Picks

Producer Irene Noguchi:
Calexico, "Over Your Shoulder"
Sam Cooke, "Bring It On Home To Me/Sentimental Feeling"
Jeff Buckley, "Lover, You Should Have Come Over"

Producer Judy Campbell:
T. Rex, "The Slider"
Sly and the Family Stone, "Fresh"
Cat Power, "Moon Pix"

Producer Tina Laurberg:
Mozart, "Overture of Don Giovanni"
The Police, "Every Little Thing"
Kim Larsen, "Hvad Goer Vi Nu, Lille Du"


Tom Moon, music reviewer for NPR and author of "1,000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die: A Listener's Life List"


Senior Editor Dan Zoll:
Miles Davis, "Kind of Blue"
Talking Heads, "Speaking in Tongues"
REM, "Murmur"

Online producer David Marks:
CAN "Tago Mago"
The Congos "Heart of the Congos"
Fairuz "Andaloussiyat"


Listeners’ Picks


Handel’s Messiah

Clair de Lune, Claude Debussy

Rhapsody in Blue, Gershwin

John Philip Sousa

Quatuor à cordes, Claude Debussy



I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die-Rag, Country Joe and the Fish

Get Together, The Youngbloods

Summer in the City, Lovin Spoonful

Sunny, Bobby Hebb

Ode to Billie Joe, Bobbie Gentry  

For Your Love, The Yardbirds

The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore, The Walker Bros

Hey Jude, The Beatles

Casey Jones, Grateful Dead

Ripple, Grateful Dead

Your Song, Elton John

Levon, Elton John

Redneck Friend, Jackson Browne

Rosalita, Bruce Springsteen   

Blue Sky, The Allman Brothers Band

Rhiannon, Fleetwood Mac

Sail on Sailor, The Beach Boys

Birdland, Weather Report

Waterloo Sunset, The Kinks

O.P.P., Naughty By Nature

I Wish, Skee-Lo

This Is How We Do It,  Montell Jordan

Jump, Kris Kross

Ain't Hard to Tell, Nas   

All Along the Watchtower, Bob Dylan (Jimi Hendrix version)

Layla, Derek and the Dominos

Marquee Moon, Television

Ain’t Too Proud to Beg, The Temptations

I Heard it Through the Grapevine, Marvin Gaye

Function at the Junction, Shorty Long

Someone In A Tree, Stephen Sondheim ( from Pacific Overtures)

You Light Up My LIfe, Debby Boone  

De Do Do Do De Da Da Da, The Police

Blue Rondo  à la Turk, Dave Brubeck

Come Sunday, Mahalia Jackson & Duke Ellington

In the Mood, Glenn Miller

Begin the Beguine, Artie Shaw

In the Aeroplane over the Sea, Neutral Milk Hotel

Don’t You Forget About Me, Simple Minds

Here’s To Life, Joe Williams

My Dear Acquaintance, Regina Spektor

After the Storm, Mumford & Sons

Inch of Dust, Future Islands

Sick Talk, Wye Oak

Ohia, Farewell Transmission

Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), Eurythmics

Dancing in the Dark, Bruce Springsteen

If This is It, Huey Lewis and the News

Uncatena, Sylvan Esso

Nick of Time, Bonnie Raitt

Aja, Steely Dan

Georgia, Boz Scaggs

Rawhide (Theme Song), Frankie Lane

Dazed and Confused, Led Zeppelin   

The Wall, Quicksilver Messenger Service

Where Have All the Flowers Gone, Kingston Trio

San Franciscan Nights, Eric Burdon & The Animals

Cat’s In the Cradle, Harry Chapin

OK Computer, Radiohead

Surf’s Up, The Beach Boys

In Memory of Elizabeth Reed, The Allman Brothers Band

Águas de Março, Antonio Carlos Jobim & Elis Regina

A Sunday Kind of Love, Etta James  

Besame Mucho, (Multiple Versions)

Song of the Wind, Carlos Santana

Sitting on the Dock of the Bay, Otis Redding  

Hound Dog, Elvis Presley

Blowing in the Wind, Peter, Paul and Mary

I Want to Hold Your Hand, The Beatles

In My LIfe, The Beatles

Eleanor Rigby, The Beatles

Light My FIre, The Doors

Lovely Day, Bill Withers

So Many Stars, Sergio Mendes & Brasil

The Idiot Kings, Soul Coughing



Like I Said, Ani DiFranco

Modern Times, Al Stewart

Jack White

Hank Williams

Johnny Cash

Summer Sun, Yo La Tengo

The War on Drugs

St. Vincent

Thembi, Pharoah Sanders (Album)

Forest Flower, Charles Lloyd (Album)

Liquid Swords, GZA

Let it Bleed, The Rolling Stones

Arctic Monkeys

Louis Armstrong

Ella Fitzgerald

Frank Sinatra

Diana Krall

Chuck Berry

Wilma Cozart Fine

Bert Whyte

Talking Book, Stevie Wonder

Kind of Blue, Miles Davis

Avalon, Roxy Music

Joni Mitchell


Fleet Foxes

Jose Gonzalez

Otis Redding

Graceland, Paul Simon

Fleetwood Mac

Jefferson Airplane

The Doors

Quicksilver Messenger Service

Big Brother and the Holding Company

Country Joe and the Fish

Grateful Dead

Dele Sosimi

Fela Kuti


1984, Van Halen

Jar of Flies, Alice in Chains

Paul's Boutique, Beastie Boys

Getz/Gilberto, Stan Getz/João Giberto and featuring Antonio Carlos Jobim

The Complete Ella Fitzgerald Songbooks, Ella Fitzgerald

Eat a Peach, Allman Brothers

The Stone Roses, The Stone Roses

Hunky Dory, David Bowie

Taking Tiger Mountain, Brian Eno

My Aim is True, Elvis Costello

The Clash, The Clash

Lani Hall

Peter Gabriel

Paul Simon

Daft Punk

James Brown

Yes, Morphine

Carole King


Star Wars soundtracks

Indiana Jones soundtracks

Passion: Music for the Last Temptation of Christ, Peter Gabriel

Voodoo, D'angelo

Lust for life, Iggy Pops

Live at the Harlem Square Club, Sam Cooke

Stan Kenton

Benny Goodman  

Ali Akbar Khan

Rajeev Taranath

Peter and the Wolf, Sergei Prokofiev

Tom Lehrer

Rubber Soul, The Beatles

Live Dead, Grateful Dead

Rehearsals for Retirement, Phil Ochs

The Compleat Tom Paxton, Tom Paxton

Days of Future Passed, Moody Blues

Blonde on Blonde, Bob Dylan

Fifth Album, Judy Collins

Greatest Hits, Linda Ronstadt

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme, Simon Garfunkel

Ingénue, K.D. Lang

Hejira, Joni Mitchell

License to Ill, Beastie Boys

Appetite for Destructions, Guns 'N Roses

The Real Thing, Faith No More

Liege and Lief, Fairport Convention

Asha Bhosle

Rust Never Sleeps, Neil Young

My Life in The Bush of Ghosts, Brian Eno/David Byrne

Gil Evans

Every Grain of Sand, Barb Jungr

Days of Future Passed, The Moody Blues

Be Yourself Tonight, Eurythmics

Jesus Christ Superstar


Monk Suite: Kronos Quartet Plays Music of Thelonious Monk

The Hissing of Summer Lawns, Joni Mitchell

Don Juan's Reckless Daughter, Joni Mitchell.

Sweetnighter, Weather Report

Grievous Angel

Graham Parsons


East-West, The Butterfield Blues Band

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